UVA defense: Experience in Clemson, Florida losses should pay off

uva footballVirginia brings back a ton of experience on defense in 2020: 20 of the 23 guys on the depth chart for the Orange Bowl are back.

Twenty guys, and a defensive coordinator, Nick Howell, with “a bad taste in our mouth right now.”

“Yeah, I mean, we’ve been able to watch the Clemson game, you know, multiple times, as a staff and with our players. We’ve been able to watch the Florida game multiple times with staff and players. And so we did some good things, but we did some things where we didn’t put our best out there. And we left a lot out there. And so we’re going like crazy right now and using that as motivation to fix that,” Howell said.

The UVA defense was the backbone of the team in the first half of the season, but injuries – cornerback Bryce Hall and linebacker Jordan Mack, both projected NFL Draft picks, and safety Brenton Nelson were among those who went down – forced Howell to go with young, to that point unproven guys down the stretch.

The unit got lit up in the ACC title game loss to Clemson and the Orange Bowl loss to Florida, giving up 98 points and 1,168 total yards.

But the silver lining to that is, the young guys got their baptisms, by fire, and from a look at the 2020 schedule – opening with Georgia, at Clemson on Sept. 26, at home against ACC Coastal preseason favorite North Carolina on Oct. 3 – more of the same in terms of quality offensive opposition is coming soon.

“There’ll be some tests early in the season, you know, with Georgia right there and Clemson, and North Carolina, all those guys early in the schedule, so it’s good,” Howell said. “I think one thing that benefits us with this experience, too, is, if handled correctly, you know, I think we can use that to an advantage defensively to get in guys who know our scheme and, you know, we should be able to go fast once we get back together.”

Story by Chris Graham

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